A Look Back Into The History of Navarro County
Alva Everett Taylor
By Stephen R. Farris
Special to the Navco Chronicle
The late Alva Everett Taylor was a well-known photographer in Corsicana from the 1920s up until his death in 1965. While photography was one of his passions in life, he was also known as a historian of Navarro County history.
Taylor was born in 1891 about a mile east of present day Dawson. He attended school when the weather was good, as back in those days the roads were nowhere near what they are now, and travel could be treacherous.
In 1911, Taylor attended Baylor University to study art. Baylor is where he met his soon to be wife (Maud Stockard), and in 1914 the couple were married. They settled in the Dawson area and Taylor took up farming.
That lasted until about 1921. The couple and their two young sons moved to Corsicana. A daughter was born a year later. In 1921, Taylor had enough money saved to buy the Prest-O-Lite Battery Company, which was later changed to the Taylor Electric Company.
He became more involved in the community, as the family attended First Baptist Church. Taylor also joined the Mason Lodge, IOOF, and Chamber of Commerce. In 1940, after selling off his business, he became more involved in photography, eventually opening up Taylor Studios.
HIs love for photography and history landed him the position of being the official photographer for the Corsicana centennial celebration. A few years later, he published some of his Navarro County and Corsicana history findings in a book. During his lifetime, Taylor went on to publish several other books and short stories concerning Corsicana and Navarro County history.
Taylor is probably more known as one of the fathers of the Navarro County Historical Society, which began after he and Kerens native, Joe Daniel, met for coffee at the old Navarro Hotel back in 1955. The two men discussed over several meetings the possibility of forming a historical group and the discussions became reality about a year later.
After doing some research through old copies of the Corsicana Daily Sun, this wasn’t the first time the Navarro County Historical Society name was used. The first mention of it was from the late 1920s to mid 1930s (I don’t recall the exact dates, but it was during that time frame), but the group didn’t last long.
Back to Taylor and Daniel. The first meeting of the “revived” Navarro County Historical Society was held in 1956 at the Corsicana Public Library. After sending out notices, 11 people showed up and the group has been meeting for the past 66 years. Daniel was the first president of the organization, and Taylor served as vice-president.
A couple of years later, Taylor and the Society were able to convince the City of Corsicana to donate a section of Jester Park, to erect a pioneer town in order to preserve some of the early buildings built when settlers began moving into the county. In 1958, Pioneer Village came into existence (again, from discussions between Taylor and Daniel over coffee), and over the years many other buildings were added, along with a Peace Officers Museum, and the Lefty Frizzell Museum.
Taylor continued to be deeply involved with the village and the historical society. He died on December 8, 1965, at the Palace Theater, doing what he loved. Taking pictures.
A historical marker was erected in his honor at Pioneer Village. To learn more about Alva Taylor, visit navarrocountyhistory.com, and click on Navarro County Scroll, Vol. XIX – 1974.